Guangdong considers new land proposals

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 March, 2007, 12:00am

Guangdong is considering a proposal to allow the sale of collectively-owned farmland for housing construction in a bold move that is expected to help minimise land disputes.

Southern Weekend reported that a proposal from the Guangdong Land and Resources Department had been submitted to the provincial government for approval but a department spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Other newspapers have also reported that the department was considering the proposal, which the weekly described as a step into the last restricted zone in China's land reform.

A Beijing-based rural expert, who asked not to be identified, said the 'general direction of the proposal is correct'.

'It is a good thing to put land on the market so there should be fewer disputes,' said the expert, who advocates the privatisation of land to support the development of China's market economy. 'The proposal allows collectively-owned land held individually to be bought and sold.'

Lawyer Tang Jingling , who lost his licence to practise because of his work with villagers in Taishi seeking to recall their headman in 2005, said legalising transactions in collectively-owned land would do away with unnecessary conflicts and spur economic growth.

'These are assets that have been locked up but by freeing them, they can be used to generate wealth,' he said. However, he disagreed that it was a major breakthrough, saying there would still be restrictions on collectively-owned arable land.

With land becoming scarce, farmers too were now holding on to the minuscule plots.

The Property Law passed by the National People's Congress earlier this month has been interpreted as sanctioning such transactions because it omitted a clause in the old law that forbade transactions in collectively-owned land.